By Moses Baguma
Traders world over have been seated in their homes in response to health guidelines of curbing the prevailing pandemic, Covid-19. Talking about Uganda in particular, traders have spent 3 months minus earning a penny but spending on feeding their families and other associated expenses.
We all know that for any business to have a guaranteed tomorrow, it must be well liquidated, because cash is the blood of most businesses. Now, most traders in this lockdown have inevitably spent their cash in a bid to survive, which has made them financially depleted.
To make matters worse, commercial building owners are extremely determined to collect rent arrears from their respective tenants! How does a business person derive rent? The individual must open business, make sales, make profit and it’s from the profits made that the tenants get rent to pay off landlords.
No trader has been operating across downtown to make profits. In exact terms, forcing tenants to pay their rent arrears is like simply telling them to get rid of their capital by giving it to landlords and eventually close business!
We understand our landlords have loans but we are also heavily indebted vis-a-vis our working capital.
It should be remembered that in Uganda, the informal sector employs most of the people!
Mr. President, does it make political and economic sense for your people across town to close down business after paying rent arrears?
It should be noted that tenants among most popular commercial buildings pay rent which ranges from 1M to 10M per month although landlords issue receipts with lesser amounts!
Mr. President, am imploring you, on behalf of fellow business men to give our concerns the attention they deserve. We really don’t want a riot as it is the formula for getting attention in Uganda, because it might reverse all the achievements we’ve made in controlling the spread of covid-19 during lockdown.
Worst case scenario, let tenants pay 50% of their rent arrears and landlords also lose the other half. Yes, the loss must be shared! The 50% on the side of tenants should also be evenly spread over the next 3 months after resuming business.
Moses Baguma is a Ugandan businessman